The NSW corruption watchdog will hold public hearings to examine whether three former councilors accepted benefits as inducements to approve property developments in Sydney’s south.
Former Georges River and Hurstville City councilors Con Hindi and Vince Badalati, and Hurstville councilor Philip Sansom, will front the watchdog as it investigates planning decisions in Hurstville between 2014 and 2021.
The Sydney Morning Herald revealed in late 2020 that the Independent Commission Against Corruption was investigating allegations that Hindi and Badalati voted for a developer’s projects after traveling overseas with him.
ICAC is investigating allegations the men flew to Tangshan, China, in April 2016 with property developer Wensheng Liu during their time on the former Hurstville council, which preceded the amalgamated Georges River Council. Wensheng Liu was behind a rezoning proposal and a planned 11-storey tower block. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.
Badalati had previously told the Herald he and Liberal councilor Con Hindi paid for their own flights and accommodation when they visited Tangshan to visit a Chinese energy and waste processing company.
According to a statement, the ICAC will examine whether Badalati, Hindi and Sansom sought or accepted benefits as an inducement or reward for partially and dishonestly exercising their official functions in favor of the interests of Ching Wah (Philip) Uy, Wensheng Liu and Yuqing Liu.
Operation Galley will examine if the councilors deliberately failed to declare or properly manage any conflict of interest arising from their relationships with the three men.
The five-week inquiry will also explore whether Mr Uy, Wensheng Liu and Yuqing Liu gave benefits, like overseas flights and accommodation, to secure the councilors’ support on planning matters.
The planning decisions relate to developments in Hurstville at 1-5 Treacy Street, 1 Hill Road, 53-57 Forest Road, 108-126 Durham Street and 9 Roberts Lane.